Local coaches not surprised by Shula firing

By Staff
Mike Self, FCT Sports Editor
Two local high school football coaches were not surprised to learn the fate of Alabama head coach Mike Shula, who was fired late Sunday night after posting just one winning season in four years with the Crimson Tide.
Shula was given a contract extension after leading Alabama to a 10-2 record in 2005, but he was fired on Sunday after the Tide slipped to 6-6 this season. That record included a loss to perennial SEC doormat Mississippi State and a fifth straight loss to arch-rival Auburn.
Shula, 26-23 in his four seasons, became the first coach in Alabama history to lose four consecutive Iron Bowls.
"College football is a whole different game," Russellville head coach Perry Swindall said on Monday. "They pay you to win games, and Alabama is a school that expects to win a lot of football games. If you're not winning games, then you're expected to have a plan in place to move the program in that direction. Evidently, [Coach Shula] didn't have a plan that satisfied his superiors."
Shula said in an official statement on Monday that when he met with his players Sunday night, he "fully believed [he] was going to remain the head coach at the university." After that meeting Shula received a note from director of football operations Randy Ross to contact athletic director Mal Moore, who informed the coach that he was being fired.
"I don't think he was surprised [by the firing]," Swindall said. "Realistically, when you get paid that much money, the expectations should be high."
Tharptown football coach Dale Overton expressed regret over the way the situation was handled. Shula's future was up in the air for more than a week following the 22-15 loss to Auburn, and many speculated that Alabama's braintrust was already searching for his replacement before the actual firing took place.
"It got to the point where it became embarrassing for him, and you hate to see that," said Overton, who played for Auburn in the late 1980s. "As a coach, anytime another coach loses his job, you feel for him. You know it's hard on him, and you think about his family, too. Plus, being fired by his own school, the school where he played, that makes it even tougher to swallow. There are probably some hard feelings.
"At the same time, he knew what he was getting into. The University didn't think he was making enough progress, and they have a right to see the progress they want to see for the money they pay."

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